- Walter Backerman
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“When my grandfather started the business in 1919, it was the most commonplace thing,” says Walter Backerman, a third-generation seltzer deliveryman and one of the city’s last. “Now it’s like a survivor of the Titanic—it becomes fascinating.” It’s true that the charming, chatty Backerman often draws attention as he drops off cases of blue and green syphon bottles all over town, from the homes of elderly Bronx widows to the craft-service tables at The View. (One of his father’s bottles once made it into Susan Lucci’s hands for a pivotal scene in All My Children; Walter’s a big fan, as was his late dad, and he calls it “among my proudest moments.”) Twenty bucks gets you ten ancient bottles, freshly filled at the Gomberg Seltzer Works in Canarsie, and the very real sense that you’re experiencing a bit of vaudeville-era New York fizz and sparkle that stubbornly refuses to go away.
From the 2004 Best of New York issue of New York Magazine
So what exactly does “best” mean in a city with thousands of pizza joints, hundreds of celebrity masseuses, and museum-worthy concept shops on every corner? Well, in the case of this, our annual “Best of New York” roundup, there’s a heavy emphasis on what’s new or what has somehow remained virtually unheard of (until now, of course).